FLORHAM PARK–Deer mating season is underway and the AAA New Jersey Automobile Club advises motorists to use caution when driving. When deer begin the “rut”—the time frame between October and December when they mate and breed—they often lose inhibitions, resulting in deer-vehicle collisions.
New Jersey’s deer population and the state’s busy roadways create a dangerous mix for motorists and drivers should take extra caution when driving during the “rut” period.
“Deer are most active during dawn and dusk hours, when they are looking for food, shelter or a mate,” said Cathleen Lewis, director of public affairs for the Florham Park-based Club. “Unfortunately, this timing coincides with motorists who are driving to and from work.”
The AAA New Jersey Automobile Club offers the following tips to motorists to help avoid deer-vehicle collisions:
- Slow down. Drive slower in low-light situations—especially at dawn and dusk, and during the morning and evening rush hours. About 20 percent of deer-related accidents occur early in the morning and approximately 58 percent happen between 5 p.m. and Midnight.
- Prepare yourself. If a crash with a deer is unavoidable, slow down and let off the brakes before impact. This will raise the front end of the car during a crash, increasing the chance that the animal will go underneath the vehicle.
- Where there’s one, there’s many. Deer usually travel in groups, so if you see a deer cross the road ahead of you, be on the lookout for more to follow.
- Be alert. Deer-crossing signs indicate areas where deer frequently travel. Remember any deer sightings—deer are creatures of habit and often use the same paths.
- Lights and sounds. Deer fixate on headlights. If you see a deer ahead of you, flashing your lights and honking your horn may startle them out of their trance and prevent a collision.
It is sometimes impossible to avoid a collision with a deer. In the case of a collision, motorists are advised to pull over to the side of the road and put their emergency flashers on. Call 9-1-1 immediately and file a police report. Give the police all the details about the accident and whether anyone was injured. If there is damage to your vehicle, the police report is an important document to have when you file an insurance claim.
After you call the police, contact your insurance provider. Deer accidents can result in thousands of dollars of damage to your vehicle, and from an insurance standpoint, deer-vehicle collisions fall under your comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive insurance typically covers damage caused by vandalism, floods, hurricane or theft. Comprehensive coverage ensures that most drivers are covered, subject to a deductible, for damage resulting from animal-vehicle collisions.
The AAA New Jersey Automobile Club, headquartered in Florham Park, provides automotive, travel, insurance, financial and educational services to its more than 400,000 members in Essex, Morris and Union counties. The AAA New Jersey Automobile Club also owns and operates New Jersey’s only AAA Car Care Center, located in Springfield. Visit AAA online at AAA.com.
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